Category Archives: Out and About in the Burgh

Follow the guys exploits out enjoying the beer culture around Pittsburgh.

Ja! Das Ist Gut! Oktoberfest at Penn Brewing

Last night TDY was present at the Penn Oktoberfest.  What a perfectly run event.  The party was very very packed, yet all lines moved quickly.  There  were several beer lines and they all moved tons of people through very quickly.  The food line worked like clockwork.  The men’s line was non-existant, all thanks to the porta-john trough.  This was the best porta-john system of all the beer/festivals of the year!!!  I think Mayor Luke should hire the Penn staff to organize the bus lines for the city.

So much to talk about in such little time.  Let’s start with the beer.  Penn was serving all the hits.  We personally drank the Oktoberfest all night.  Pitchers were 1/2 gallon plastic jugs.  Beer and food were cash only.  After a few pitchers it was time to find an ATM.  En route to the ATM we spoke with a salesman from Penn about the bottling line.  It was an interesting tour while waiting for the ATM.  Did you know they still handle bottles coming off the line by hand?!?!  Yep so every bottle of Penn is truly hand crafted and cared for.

The food was great.  We each had the sausage platter.  Wunderbar!  A brat and kilbasa with hot potato salad and kraut.  As beer and food pairings go, the Oktoberfest brew with dinner was a perfect match.  Those Germans really perfected the art of beer with food over the past centuries.

And of course there was entertainment.  The band wasn’t holding anything back.  We heard the Steelers’ Polka with orginial German lyrics and several more times with the lyrics we all know by heart.  “We’re from the town with that great football team, We cheer the Pittsburgh Steelers. Winning’s a habit, not only a dream, Go out and get them Steelers!”  The Pirates even added to the fun.  From Penn we had an excellent view of the Skyblast fireworks with the city skyline as the backdrop.

No worries, if you missed the fun this weekend, you can still head over to Penn for a liter, brat w/ kraut and lederhosen next weekend.  The fun starts on Friday 9/24 at 5pm.  Check Penn’s website for all the details.  http://www.pennbrew.com/data/english/oktoberfest.htm

That was AWESOME! Big Pour 4 Review

Wow!  What a great time!  The Big Pour Four knocked it out of the ballpark further then Sidney Crosby ever could.  This was TDY’s first trip to the Big Pour since moving back to town.  Mixed emotions confronted us leading up to Saturday.  All the hype surrounding the event got us excited, and it seemed liked the rest of Pittsburgh was along for the ride.  At the same time we hoped it wouldn’t be overly hyped, feature wicked long lines, or be too unorganized.

From the very start on August 2nd I had a good feeling about the Big Pour, even if it didn’t start out so smoothly.  After failing to get through, on-line or on any of my thousands of phone calls, I almost caved.  I had almost given up, but decided to try one more time……..ring ring ring ring “Hi This is ShowClicks can I help you?”  Oh YEAH!!!  My name was placed on a waiting list as it was received and waited to hear back all evening.  While dinner was on the grill and I was drinking a Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA the phone rang.  Yep we got tickets!!!

Let’s fast forward now to the fun part, follow TDY’s path through the big pour.  You really couldn’t have asked for much better weather.  The line to get in was long, but the doors opened around 11:30am and things moved really well.  The first room had a nice mix of food and beer.  This trend followed suit throughout the festival.  Among our first beers were:

  • New Holland Poet Oatmeal Stout, Mad Hatter IPA
  • Furthermore Knot Stock – a wonderful pale ale that is light and crisp but really gives a kick in the teeth with black pepper flavor, Fatty Boombalatty
  • Anderson Valley Hop Ottin’ IPA
  • Erie FallenBock, excellent fall beer!, Heritage Alt Beer.
  • North Country Red, try it on Cask next time you are out

One of the highlights out of this group was talking to Joel from New Holland while pairing the Poet with brownies from Artspace and Coffeehouse.  We also caught up with the Should I Drink That guys.  They were serving brews from Erie Brewing including a dark German Alt Bier, Heritage.  In addition to serving for Erie and giving away occasional prizes, they came prepared for a podcast direct from Big Pour 4.  Allegro Hearth Bakery also had amazing baked goods there.  All of this was just in the first room: an excellent start to the festival!

The Belgian Beer Cafe was our next stop where the Beer Nutz fellas were pouring Unibroue’s Maudite and Ephemere. Ephemere is certainly an interesting beer brewed withe the juices from green apples.  It’s not too fruity but light and drinkable with a nice balance of sweet and tart flavors.  The Belgian Cafe was also serving New Holland Golden Cap Saison, Furthermore Make Weight, and Victory Golden Monkey Trippel. We also stopped to check out the kegerator art.  I really liked the one with the beer cans trying to break out of jail.  I will never look at the Allegheny County Jail the same.  Weyerbacher Brewing brought an awesome Double Simcoe IPA at 9%.  This beer was hoppy without the overly sweet malty or high alcohol taste that usually accompanies this style.  The Point Brugge fries were perfectly salted for beer consumption and served with flavored mayonnaise!  The band was also situated in this area.  They sounded great without being over powering, allowing for great conversation with friends and other beer lovers!  Next to the band we sampled:

  • Southern Tier 2XIPA, PumKING one of my new and only favorite Pumpkin beers.  Southern Tier is one of my favorite breweries of 2010, great showing again at the Pour!
  • Stone Levitation
  • Bell’s…..they really didn’t bring their A game at all…
  • Yard’s IPA and Brawler

After some wonderful Bocktown sausage meatballs, we had an amazing bowl of stew from Piper’s!  I could eat at Piper’s every meal of every day for a long long time.  Now that we got a little food in, time for more beer.  Voodoo Brewing was excellent again!  They stole the show for us at the Ohiopyle Beer and Gear Fest and had another strong showing at the Big Pour.  The Love Child is a very complex fruit beer but not too sweet, and it was on tap this time too.  Their Wynona’s Big Brown Ale is one of the top 3 brown ale’s I’ve ever had (No, New Castle is not in the top 3).  They are a great group of guys too.  Other beers back in this corner of the warehouse:

  • Thirsty Dog Old Leghumper – – I just can never pass this one up.  Smooth and drinkable with nice hints of chocolate and roast malts.
  • Sprague Farm; best dressed award goes to Sprague Farm for the kilt, and kick ass mustache…….he is also in charge of the hop farm
  • Mountain State Brewing; another fine showing with the solid Amber and IPA
  • Penn;  Penn Octoberfest coming very very very soon

TDY hit the two hour mark and nature called quickly.  On the way out we stopped at East End Brewing.  On cask we had the Homewood Reserve.  We can’t say enough about East End.  They always have a great showing at beer festivals and are really pushing Pittsburgh’s craft beer movement forward.  The Homewood Reserve reminded us of the cask Blackstrap stout at the Penn beer fest, but with a more bourbon taste.  Very smooth and strong with a complex flavor profile of alcohol and roasted malts.

The last few beers were:

  • Founders Backstage Series Double Barrel Bourbon IPA; awesome mix, great taste, hoppy with a little bourbon after taste, one of the top beers of the festival
  • Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
  • Troegs Porter
  • Roy Pitz Hefe
  • New Holland Brother Jacob Dunkel, Imperial Mad Hatter.

Time ran out before we could try all the amazing food, but it all smelled great!  Hats off to everyone involved with the Big Pour 4.  And we were glad to meet a lot of great people.  Tim from Craft Pittsburgh was there and it was great to hear about his big plans for spreading the passion and excitement about the craft beer movement in PGH.  We have been to tons beer festivals all over the country and this one was AWESOME.  Someone asked this weekend why we still go and if we get the same energy at every festival.  The answer is, oh yeah!  The atmosphere is excellent, you get to try rare/festival only beers and can shoot the breeze with other beer lovers.  We leave you with our top beers in no particular order.  What were your top beers?  Have any good pics?  What was your favorite kegerator?  Did you win a kegerator?  Keep checking YouTube for our videos from the Big Pour.

  • Founders Backstage Series Double Barrel Bourbon IPA
  • Voodoo Wynona’s Big Brown Ale
  • Voodoo Love Child
  • East End Homewood Reserve
  • Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA
  • New Holland Poet
  • Southern Tier PumKing
  • Furthermore Knot Stock

Big Pour and Irish Festival : A Weekend Full of Beer!

First of all, this weekend is the 4th annual Big Pour, the most highly touted beer festival in the Pittsburgh area.  Chances are good that you probably didn’t get a ticket.  Have no fear, TDY will be in attendance for the 12-3 PM session tomorrow and will give yinz the scoop on the Big Pour.  We are definitely a little bit worried about the number of people that might be in attendance (see long lines as in Brew at the Zoo).  However, we are absolutely excited about the brewers and some of their offerings.

Joel Armato from New Holland gave TDY the scoop on a couple of rare brews that they are bringing: Oak Aged Mad Hatter and Brother Jacob Belgian Dubbel.  East End is also making a special brew, a tart Berliner Weisse, just for the Big Pour.  Mountain State Brewing Co. was a nice surprise at the Ohiopyle Beer and Gear festival earlier this summer.  Try their Seneca IPA.  Voodoo was also at Beer and Gear and really stole the show.  We are excited to see if they bring either the Pilzilla (Imperial Pilsner) or the wild and fruity Love Child.  Unibroue, Stone, and Bell’s are three other breweries that don’t make many Pittsburgh area appearances but will be at the Big Pour.  I’m specifically looking for Bell’s to bring one of their great IPAs, and I will be pretty thrilled with anything that Stone and Unibroue bring to the event.  Want to plan out your strategy? See the layout for Big Pour!

If you can’t wait for Big Pour or can’t get tickets, there are several pre big pour events going on tonight!  Sarah and I will be at the Harris Grill enjoying samplings of Furthermore, Erie, Troegs, and Oskar Blues from 5-7 PM.  Blue Dust in Homestead will have a huge collection including Stone, East End, and Dogfishhead tonight starting at 7 PM.  The Sharp Edge Emporium will have the same basic lineup as the Harris Grill from 8-10 PM tonight.

After Big Pour, TDY will be heading out to Homestead for the 20th Annual Pittsburgh Irish Festival.  In addition to great food and beer, there will be traditional Irish music, dancing, and some contemporary Irish bands including Gaelic Storm at 10 PM.  We challenge you to listen to their version of Nancy Whiskey and Johnny Jump-Up and not quaff a pint of Guinness.  Big Pour + Irish Festival = Amazing Beer-Fueled Saturday

Check back early next week for lots of videos, pictures, and our thoughts on all the beer.

New Holland and Founders Tasting (Part 1)

TDY planned a great saturday to celebrate the beginning of the end to our summer!  We started off with a 2 hour paddle around the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers downtown.  The weather was absolutely beautiful, and the views of the city from the river are unrivaled.  If you are interested, Kayak Pittsburgh rents kayaks at $15/hr and no prior experience is necessary. 

After working up an appetite (and thirst), we grilled out some fajitas, complete with homemade salsa, and gathered together a large collection of New Holland and Founders selections for a tasting. New Holland is located in Holland, MI and Founders is located in Grand Rapids, MI so you can think of this as sampling the real fruits of Michigan.  Here’s a list of the beer that we tried out and some quick notes on what we thought.

  • Centennial IPA (F) 7.2% ABV, 65 IBU – very malty for an IPA with even a few hints of chocolate and caramel on the palate. a slight hoppy aroma but not much bitterness to speak of . 
  • Mad Hatter IPA (NH)  5.25% ABV – dry hopping provides more of a hop aroma (hints of something similar to Simcoe?).  The Mad Hatter is nice and crisp with still a touch of malt sweetness.  Better hop/malt balance than the Centennial.  The dry hop causes Mad Hatter to finish with a satisfying dryness.
  • Imperial Mad Hatter IPA (NH) 9.4% ABV – similar to the Mad Hatter but with the distinctive bite of a higher alcohol brew.  The alcohol actually balances the malt bill and helps bring some more of the hop character to the forefront. 
  • Red’s Rye IPA (F)  6.6% ABV,  70 IBU – Centennial with a touch of rye to create a richness of flavor that overcomes the strong malt bill.  Our favorite of all 4 of the IPAs, although nontraditional, has the most to offer in terms of flavor complexity and balance.  A rich deep red color and good head retention  create a visual experience to rival the taste.

 

 

  • Golden Cap Saison (NH) 6.25% ABV – Very sweet candy-like aroma reminiscent of a Belgian blonde ale. The flavor is sweet at first with a carbonation that feels light on the tongue and a finish that ends in a surprising sourness reminiscent of a Belgian gueze.  Golden Cap is a wonderful surprise and great on a hot summer night.  We should warn that this beer is not for everyone as many people shy away from this level of sweetness in a beer.
  • Cerise (F)  6.5% ABV, 15 IBU – Aroma reminiscent of a fresh baked cherry pie.  Fruity with a touch of sweetness but not artificial.  Finishes with a tartness that any good cherry pie should have.   Pours a beautiful light red color with a nice head.  Cerise is  truly a gateway fruit beer : introducing the style without being overly sweet.
  • Sundog Amber Ale (NH)  6% ABV – A typical amber ale that balances a bit of maltiness with just a slight touch of hops.
  • Curmudgeon Old Ale (F)  9.8% ABV, 50 IBU – Curmudgeon is all about the malt and therefore retains a characteristic sweetness that is evident even in the aroma.  With hints of roasted malts, caramel, and butterscotch, Curmudgeon seems like a dessert in a glass and so again is not for everyone.  Those that enjoy very malty or sweet beers will likely love Curmudgeon while American IPA “hopheads” will find this one hard to swallow.
  • Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale (F) 8.5% ABV, 50 IBU –  A slimmed down version of Curmudgeon which is not as malty resulting in a much smoother flavor.  The Scotch Ale has a bit more roasted malt flavor than the straight sweetness of Curmudgeon.  Excellent head retention.

 

Our Favorite Beers 

Tim :  Founders Red’s Rye IPA – It’s really a unique beer with a great hop/malt balance and a flavor profile that is truly enhanced by the touch of rye.

Look for our  continuation of the New Holland and Founders Tasting  including New Holland’s Night Tripper Imperial Stout, Wheat Wine, and Poet Oatmeal Stout.

Local Hoplight: Pittsburgh Deli Co.

728 Copeland St. Shadyside

This is the first post in our Local Hoplight series which features off the beaten path Pittsburgh establishments where you can find some good craft brews.  The Pittsburgh Deli Co. is a great little spot in the heart of Shadyside (just off Walnut St.).  As a Shadyside resident, I recommend stopping by for a sandwich off their extensive deli menu.  The Tally Ho, which is an Italian sandwich on flatbread topped with a delicious olive tapenade, is a drunk yinzer favorite!

This neighborhood deli is not typically the sort of place that you would expect a good beer selection, but the Pittsburgh Deli Co. surprises with a respectable craft beer selection.  Not only do they have a variety of craft beer in bottles so that you can grab a few beers to go, but there is a rotating draft list of 6 beers.

L2R: Bell's Oberon Ale, Yuengling, Miller Lite, Magic Hat #9, Dogfishhead 60 min IPA, Guinness

The bottle selection rotates, but this past weekend included a healthy dose of Victory, Great Lakes, and Magic Hat offerings with a few nice surprises such as Boulder Beer’s Hazed and Infused, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, and Rogue’s Chocolate Stout.  I recently paired the Tally Ho with a Heavy Seas summer ale which made for a refreshing late summer lunch.  Heavy Seas got this one right as it is  light and refreshing with a touch of sweetness.  If you find yourself in Shadyside, stop by for a sandwich and beer in a very laid back atmosphere.

Beers Around Town: Shakespeare is at The Library

Last night we enjoyed a few brews at The Library on Carson in the Southside.  This is one of our favorite places to find a great/plentiful tap and bottle list.  The tap list changes fairly often and always has a nice selection from pale ales, IPAs, ambers to stouts and seasonals.  So everyone can find something to enjoy or try for the first time.  East End Brewing is always proudly served on tap.  Last night a Big Hop IPA started things off at our table.  From there Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout stole the show for me. 

Appearance:  Dark in color with a tan creamy head and great retention.  As you drink the beer it leaves a nice lacing ring all the way down the pint glass.

Aroma:  Take one whiff of this and you will immediately know there is roasted and chocolate malt present.  I also got a hint of citrus from the hops.

Taste:  WOW!  Talk about smooth.  Don’t be surprised if you have more than one.  Initially you are hit with a sweet malty taste of roasted malt, dark chocolate and a slight undertone of hops.  Then the sweetness is gone and you are left with the bitterness of the chocolate malt.  The after-taste is bitter-sweet, but delish!  If you let the beer warm up to room temperature the roasty/chocolate flavors are even more prevalent.

Mouthfeel:  Creamy, smooth and with just the right amount of carbonation.  Again it goes down very easy.

Drink ability:  Some say just one is good enough.  I love this beer; especially with fall/winter approaching I would drink this all night.

So what do you think of the Shakespeare Stout?  Have you had this beer before?  Is your mouth watering/do you want a pint now?

Brew at the Zoo Wrap-Up

Despite the rain, Jake and I made the trip out to the Pittsburgh Zoo for last weekend’s Brew at the Zoo fundraiser for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.  Apparently a large part of the city of Pittsburgh also attended as lines were pretty long, but there was beer and exotic animals so we still had a good time.  There was a good mix of beer and several live music acts.  Interestingly, there was plenty of free food from chips/pretzels to mini pulled pork sandwiches to a chocolate fountain in the main atrium of the PPQ aquarium.

Several homebrew clubs were in attendance lending another dimension to the brewfest experience.  Sixth Circle Brewing offered a variety of homebrews including Piss Water (American Cream Ale), a well rounded Dunkel, and a nice stout (which they use to make ice cream too!).  Shubrew was also in attendance with several selections including a creamy stout with some hints of chocolate and coffee.  The final tent boasted several Belgian selections including a framboise, Piraat, and St. Bernadus. 

As we ran into a few great old friends we kept tabs on all the beer gossip .  The homebrew tents kicked quickly and lots of people missed out, bummer dude.  Same thing happened at the last tent.  Did anyone else get Dragon’s Milk?  I’m pretty sure we drank most of it.  Others really enjoyed the Framboise served from Beet Nutz.  A few had high praises for McSorley’s, Sierra Nevada Summerfest (Pilsner) and the range of fruity wheat beers.  In talking with a few co-workers I heard a terrible terrible terrible rumor.  Can anyone verify if Miller was present?  I understand their beer is triple hopped brewed, but seriously WTF?!?!  Can’t you also triple hop brew piss?  Riddle me that Miller!

Brew at the Zoo attracts a wider audience than the typical brewfest, and it is nice to see people getting out and trying new beer.  However, this can result in a bit more of a mob mentality, without much order in the lines.  Additionally, the sheer number of people (and the downpour) make it difficult to get many discussions going with brewers/pourers.  With this in mind, Brew at the Zoo is a fun night out complete with zoo animals, good beer selection, and live music.  Where else can you sip on a glass of mead and watch a polar bear take a swim?